Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar has written an open letter to a stalker who has hounded her since the day she was born – sexism. And she wants the world to hear what she has to say.
The actress, who recently attended the India Today Woman Summit, read the letter out loud and spoke about how her entire life has been informed by sexism and misogyny. With a tinge of sardonic humour, Swara talks about how right from infancy boys and girls are raised differently. She notes that when she was born, the first question her grandmother had asked her father upon finding out that the baby was a girl was whether she was “fair or dark”.
Girls are expected to be nice, dutiful, polite, responsible (responsible towards others’ feelings), obedient, respectful, strong, sacrificing and forbearing but boys aren’t held against the same standards, she says in the letter.
She says, “In the space of my work – you know that contentious thing called the workplace, the “professional” context – when men in positions to hire me, or give me work made a pass at me; or a proposition; or just grabbed me and began to try and neck me… Instead of being offended – I smiled.” In fact, according to Swara, she has lost parts in movies because directors have told her she was too “intelligent” looking or did not look like a “leading lady.”
One of the reasons sexism is so rampant, according to Swara, is because it has been so normalised in our society due to the stereotyping of women and through offensive language leveled against them.
But thankfully, women like Swara are boldly speaking up about it and standing up for themselves, and hopefully charting a new discourse to address it.